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Letter: Good reasons to ban plastic bags
January 19, 2013, 05:00 AM Letter


It was not surprising to read Cathy Browne's guest perspective "Everyone loses under bag bans” in the Jan. 3 edition of the Daily Journal against legislation to ban single-use plastic bags since she is the general manager of a plastic bag manufacturer. But the argument that no one wins if we quit using single use plastic grocery bags is simply not true.

Local governments throughout California have been working hard to ban single-use plastic bags for good reason. Bay Area residents use 3.8 billion plastic bags every year, and only 5.2 percent of plastic bags are recycled (EPA 2005). About 1 million bags end up in the San Francisco Bay each year.

It costs the state $25 million annually to manage plastic bag pollution. The city of San Francisco estimates that $8.5 million annually is spent dealing with their plastic bag litter. And that is just the cost to the community to clean up the litter.

From spring 2007 to February 2011, Save Our Shores cleanup volunteers removed more than 26,000 plastic bags alone from local beaches and rivers, and we know that countless other plastic bags have made their way onto San Mateo County beaches and coastal ecosystems. Plastic is not biodegradable. In the marine environment, it breaks down into toxic microscopic particles that are ingested by wildlife, and enter the food chain that we depend on.

Let's not accept the argument that we need to continue to pollute our environment, and pay more of our tax dollars to clean it up, to save Southern California manufacturing jobs. Instead, let's urge Ms. Browne and Crown Poly to change their course to a sustainable solution by creating jobs in reusable bag manufacturing.

Patricia Potter

San Carlos

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